Tag Archives: E.P.A.

Do no evil

Dupont has apparently not heard of Google’s slogan.  It has come out with a new game changing herbicide (good) but then the reports of hundreds of thousands of trees dying starting to roll in.  Dupont says it isn’t their fault but rather than pull the product for more testing, it has kept on selling it and has blamed landscape contractors.   The New York Times has more.

“We are investigating the reports of these unfavorable tree symptoms,” said Kate Childress, a spokeswoman for DuPont. “Until this investigation is complete, it’s difficult to say what variables contributed to the symptoms.”

DuPont continues to sell the product, which is registered for use in all states except California and New York. The company said that there were many places where the product had been used without damaging trees.

The E.P.A. has begun gathering information on the deaths from state officials and DuPont as well as through its own investigators. “E.P.A. is taking this very seriously,” the agency said in a statement.

In a June 17 letter to its landscape customers, Michael McDermott, a DuPont products official, seemed to put the onus for the tree deaths on workers applying Imprelis. He wrote that customers with affected trees might not have mixed the herbicide properly or might have combined it with other herbicides. DuPont officials have also suggested that the trees may come back, and have asked landscapers to leave them in the ground.

Mr. McDermott instructed customers in the letter not to apply the herbicide near Norway spruce or white pine, or places where the product might drift toward such trees or run off toward their roots.

For some landscapers, the die-off has been catastrophic. “It’s been devastating,” said Matt Coats, service manager for Underwood Nursery in Adrian, Mich. “We’ve made 1,000 applications and had 350 complaints of dead trees, and it’s climbing. I’ve done nothing for the last three weeks but deal with angry customers.”

“We’re seeing some trees doing O.K., with just the tips getting brown, and others are completely dead and it looks like someone took a flamethrower to them,” he said.

So far, the herbicide seems to affect trees with shallow root systems, including willows, poplars and conifers, he said.

Underwood Nursery is replacing the trees, which its liability insurance covers, but faces a $500 deductible for each incident. “It’s already cost us $150,000,” Mr. Coats said. Some landscapers are finding that their insurance does not cover the tree deaths at all.

Dupont seems to be using the News Corp style of